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Middle Ages

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 3 months ago

Middle Ages






Took place from 476 - 1400 A.D. Most of the music from this time is created for the church with the purpose of spreading christianity. During this time musical notation started to be formed. Courtly music was becoming popular as well as polyphony. Secular music was more popular rather than sacred music, but since it was so expensive to write down music and preserve it, we don't have very much secular music left. Today, the music we have is mostly, church-used, sacred music.




The instruments used in the middle ages are very different than what we are used to today. For example, the lute(not like the flute) is a guitar like instrument along with the mandalin. Also, while we are used to many instuments being made out of metal or brass, in the middle ages they were made out of wood. Examples of this are the flute, and the cornett. There were also very early versions of instruments we know today, such as the organ and the trombone.




Notation of music in the middle ages are very different then how we read music today. Music was becomig more and more organized. As before where rhythms were just notated to be long or short, now there were new notes that in succession would make a new rhythm. There was also a way of notating in which different shapes of notes determined a rhythm. Music writing also seemed to take an artistic form, as shown here:



Key Composers

Hildegard Von Bigen 1098 - 1179


It has been debated whether or not Bigen suffered from medical complications or had divine visions. She spent her life in a convent that her parents sent her to when she was eight. She was very intelligent and surpassed the accepted level of education for a woman of her time. She wrote many monophonic pieces for the church. They were unusual because they were mostly for female voices. She uses repeating motives a lot and her pieces give off a feeling of improvisation. Although she was not the only female composer of the time, many of her female counterparts' pieces were published in anonymity, but Bigen oversaw the printing of her works and made sure to keep authority over them.




 A french poet and musician, Machaut composed in a time of great turmoil. Europe underwent the plague and the Hundred Years' War began. A part of the Ars Nova movement, which translates to new art. He experimented with polyphony helping bring it to popularity. Marchaut spent much of his life in higher ranked positions and was involved in the church, which added to his collection of both secular and sacred music. Messe de Nostre Dame was Machaut's piece for mass that was a full setting piece, meaning the music took up the entire mass. He focused on the tonic-dominant relationship, which was the norm of the time. His secular music took on the forms of virelei, rondeau and ballade and were modeled after the troubadours and trouvères.







Group members


  • Alyssa Ried 
  • Tiffany Holland


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